Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Parades: Restrictions placed on contentious republican march in Castlederg

Sinn Fein and DUP at loggerheads over march in Castlederg

The memorial to the IRA men who were killed by their own bomb. The memorial is three miles from Castlederg just over the border. Pic Martin McKeown
The memorial to the IRA men who were killed by their own bomb. The memorial is three miles from Castlederg just over the border. Pic Martin McKeown

Restrictions have been placed on a contentious republican parade in Co Tyrone due to go ahead later this month.

The determination was made by the Parades Commission on Thursday afternoon over a march in Castlederg.

The Tyrone Volunteers Commemoration parades is now due to take place on Sunday, August 11.

But the commission has ruled that the event cannot proceed through the centre of the village.

The Parades Commission said : "The parade shall assemble at the notified assembly point , but shall not process to High Street, John Street, the Diamond, Main Street or Ferguson Crescent as notified.

"It shall instead turn right and process directly onto Castlefin Road, resuming the remainder of its notified route."

Reiterating the party's previous position on the matter, DUP MLA for West Tyrone, Thomas Buchanan, called for the parade to be "cancelled".

"The fact that Sinn Fein chooses to celebrate these so-called PIRA volunteers, killed whilst transporting a bomb to Castlederg, speaks volumes about their view of reconciliation," he said.

"It also shows their utter insensitivity to the victims of PIRA terrorism."

Despite restrictions placed on the march, the Parades Commission does not have the power to 'ban' or cancel an event.

A protest during the event by the Derg Valley Victims' Voice was also given the go-ahead this afternoon.

The Tyrone Volunteers Day event will mark the deaths of Castlederg IRA men Seamus Harvey (23) and Gerard McGlynn (20) who died in 1973 when a car bomb they were understood to be transporting to the town detonated early.

The explosion happened around three miles away at an Irish customs post across the border in Co Donegal.

First Minister Peter Robinson has said the Sinn Fein backed parade to commemorate two IRA bombers in the Co Tyrone town they were intending to target was insensitive and inappropriate.

But while the DUP leader heavily criticised proposals for the event in Castlederg later this month, Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness insisted people of all traditions in the region had a right to honour their dead.

The organisers of the parade had volunteered to change an original planned route - avoiding the town's war memorial.

However, the Parades Commission's ruling goes further - taking the march away from the central area of Castlederg.

Despite calls for a 'ban' on the event, a spokesman for the Parades Commission explained that the body had no power to cancel it.

"The proposed parade in Castlederg has generated an intense level of interest," he said.

"Over the past few days the commission has considered a wide range of representations from parade organisers, political parties, victims and residents.

"The commission has also received around 500 emails and letters, many calling for the parade to be 'banned', a power which is not available to the commission under existing legislation.

"Although the original route was revised, on the basis of the representations received the commission has concluded that if the parade were to proceed as notified it would have a damaging effect on community relations in the town.

"Consequently, the commission has issued a determination to restrict the parade's route away from the 'Diamond' area, including the Cenotaph, in Castlederg."

Sinn Fein councillor for Castlederg, Ruairi McHugh, said he would be asking for a review of the decision which had made "a mockery of the concept of a shared space".

"This determination makes a mockery of the concept of shared space within Castlederg centre and the fact that locally there has been dialogue for over five years surrounding parades in the town," he said.

To read the full Parades Commission determination, click here.

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